September 13, 2019 11:49am
Investor Spotlight: Chef Space
Founded In: 2015
By: Community Ventures
Number of Employees: 60
Describe what your organization does in a few sentences: “Community Ventures is one of the largest non-profits in the area, headquartered in Lexington. They have a variety of things they do (website here), Chef Space being just one of them. Chef Space is a nonprofit food business accelerator located in Louisville’s West End that provides commercial kitchen space and business training for entrepreneurs to start food-related ventures. Chef Space provides them with the tools needed, including industrial kitchen equipment, product workspace, and tailored support to launch a successful food business.
Who do you serve? Chef Space serves two primary constituencies. We serve food entrepreneurs (caterers, food truck operators, bakers, and value-added food producers) who need commercial kitchen space and business support to grow their food business. We also serve the people of West Louisville by providing fresh food options in our dining hall, creating new jobs in the food industry, and supporting food entrepreneurs who are looking to develop new food businesses in the West Louisville community.
One fact you may not know about my organization is… Chef Space was created, in part, to preserve the legacy of the former Jay’s Cafeteria, which had been a food staple in West Louisville for many years. After Jay’s closed, the space was left vacant for several years. Community Ventures engaged in discussions with community members who wanted to see this treasured legacy preserved, while also meeting the larger need for fresh food options in the West End. Out of these conversations, the concept for Chef Space was born.
What sets your business apart from others in the way you attract and retain talent? Chef Space is unique in that we are focused on supporting food entrepreneurs throughout West Louisville, but with a special focus on those who are looking to plant roots in the West End. As a result, we’ve been able to hire residents of the West Louisville community as kitchen staff, while also recruiting West Louisville food entrepreneurs as Chef Space members and tenants in our space, as they share in our vision to develop a new food culture in this community.
What do you like about being an investor in Greater Louisville Inc.?
Collaborations – it is a great organization to meet people in different industries with different purposes and missions. Also, the educational opportunities for business development are critical for continued success and the annual meeting is always one we look forward to.
How does your organization engage in the community?
Since its inception, Chef Space has worked to find ways to support the West Louisville community. Chef Space was created out of a series of discussions from community members who cared about the legacy of Jay’s Cafeteria, as well as the food prospects for the West Louisville residents. It remains our responsibility to serve those same people in all that we do, whether it be opening our doors to the community to come and enjoy the cuisine of our members, or finding ways to help those same members get exposure through private and public events in the community. Most importantly, we are always looking for new food entrepreneurs who are committed to growing their food concepts in West Louisville and increasing the food access for this community.
How can people engage with your organization?
As a nonprofit, much of our current support comes from foundations and federal and state funds. But we believe the food industry is an instrumental part of the solution to creating food access in West Louisville, which is destabilized by a lack of job opportunities, lack of new housing developments, and inadequate access to healthy, fresh food options. With its years of neglect and immediate proximity to downtown, it’s a clear choice for revitalization—revitalization that’s accelerated by new businesses, job opportunities, and growing food options. We need support in the form of contributions, mentorship, goods and services, connectors and advocates. Call us, email us, check out our website at chefspace.org, or better yet – stop by and see us. We’re located at 1812 W. Muhammad Ali Blvd. We serve lunch on weekdays from 11-3. If you are a food entrepreneur ready to pursue your business idea at the next level, you can come see us about becoming a member. If you’re just looking for kitchen space to start, you can visit our website at www.chefspace.org, and click “Book Kitchen Space”. From there, you can create an account with the Food Corridor and begin reserving your kitchen space by the hour.
If you are interested in becoming a sponsor or community partner of our efforts, you can contact our Chef Space President, Jessica Morgan at firstname.lastname@example.org.